Chinese border town to demolish failed 270m-yuan tourist strip near Vietnam

Relatively new project becomes a white elephant, requiring more money to dismantle than what it took to build it

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:24pm

A remote Chinese county near the Vietnam border is demolishing a tourist strip just three years after it was built at a whopping cost of 270 million yuan (HK$340 million).

The Hekou county government in Yunnan is spending 300 million yuan – its conservative estimate – to raze the 1-kilometre-long China-Asean International Tourist Cultural Scenic Corridor, which officials say has been derided by the public as unsanitary and disorganised.

Located by a river, the street is lined mostly by restaurants, furniture shops and tour agencies, and was publicised as a “pearl on the border”.

Officials envisioned it to be an attractive destination, featuring “landscape architecture with a combination of commerce, culture and tourism”.

But the provincial government said it ended up having a “negative influence” on the river scene, according to the Oriental Morning Post

The Yunnan government has ordered the street to be rebuilt as a public open space in an effort to “improve the image of one of the country’s gateways”, it said.

“[It’s] mainly because of policy adjustment,” a county government spokesman said. Official data showed the county’s fiscal revenue last year was 180 million yuan. 

A Hekou government document last year about improving Hekou’s image said the dense cluster of shops led to poor sanitation and that green areas were disorganised, according to the newspaper.

The street’s construction was originally given the green light by Hekou’s “major leaders” and completed within a year and four months, despite concerns that its location next to the border may raise eyebrows from its neighbour.

Covering an area of about 17,000 square metres, the street had 150 commercial properties.

“It has never occurred to us that a new order [for demolition] would come so soon,” an official from the local city planning bureau was quoted as saying.

The 300 million yuan cost includes the razing of structures and compensation for property owners. Some 200 million yuan is expected to come from the county’s own coffers.

Currently, only 10 per cent of the owners have agreed to the compensation scheme.